Recently I was reading an article by Colin Powell. General Powell is the former Secretary of State and he is a retired, four-star general. Most of us have heard of him and his outstanding military career, as well as his public service to our country. He was being interviewed and was asked, “What is the best advice you have ever gotten?” As I reflected on his answer, I thought, “This is great information! I will have to share it in a Tip.” This is an excerpt from that article by General Powell:
When I was a young infantry officer at Fort Benning, Georgia, we had a lot of old captains who had served in WWII and Korea. They were not going to go any higher in rank, but boy, did they know a lot about soldiering. So, I didn’t learn this piece of barracks wisdom from an Eisenhower or Pershing. I heard it from these wonderful Reserve captains. This is the story:
There was a brand new Second Lieutenant who was very ambitious and wanted to be a General. One night at the Officer’s Club, the young officer spotted this old General sitting at the bar and he went up and said, “How do I become a General?” And the old General answered, “Son, you’ve got to work like a dog. You’ve got to have moral and physical courage. There may be days you’re tired, but you must never show fatigue. You’ll be afraid, but you can never show fear. You must always be the leader.” The young officer was so excited by this advice. “Thank you, sir,” he said. “So, this is how I become a General?” “No,” said the General, “that’s how you become a First Lieutenant, and then you keep doing it over and over.”
Throughout my career I have always tried to do my best today, think about tomorrow, and maybe dream a bit about the future. But, doing your best in the present has to be the rule. You won’t become a General unless you become a good Second Lieutenant.
Isn’t that a great story? And it is so appropriate to where most of us live on a daily basis. It is great to think about the future and all of the wonderful things we want to see happen one day in our personal life and business. The challenge comes in living today. That is where the rubber meets the road.
I believe that we should have goals, dreams, and a vision for our future. But, I also believe that we should have goals, dreams, and vision for today. If there is any truth that I have ever learned, it is certainly summed up in this story. If I will just do the very best I can with the task that is set before me this day. That is the best possible preparation I can have for tomorrow.
I want to publicly thank General Colin Powell for being an outstanding American and for helping us all learn how to grow into the next position, regardless of where we are in life, by relating his own story.
I am looking forward to seeing each of us “move up in rank” as a result of working hard today! Remember…TODAY is all you have. Make today count. Make today your best day ever!
Tip: Focus on performance, not power!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm